Track your order, update your details and claim your cashback all in your account.
No need to call us.My Account
In October 2014, Ofcom's Communications Infrastructure Report highlighted significant differences in 4G coverage between urban and countryside areas. The big four (That's O2, EE, Vodafone and 3) have their 4G infrastructure plans underway, and have been set strict Government targets to reach 98% of the UK population by 2017. It makes sense for networks to prioritise built-up-areas so more customers have access to 4G sooner.
This report, in partnership with Open Signal (providers of our UK 4G coverage map) identifies differences in 4G coverage across 28 built-up-areas within England & Wales.
Percentage of Time on 4G by Built Up Area
Four urban areas delivered 4G coverage less than 50% of the time. Despite Ofcom reporting these regions as having between 80-100% premise coverage, the countryside surrounding Kingston upon Hull, Plymouth and Teesside all offer less stable coverage between 20-60%. The BUAs higher up in our rankings, tend to be surrounded by other urban areas, implying clusters where multiple BUAs exist benefit from greater network stability.
As the more mature 4G Network, EE delivers the most consistent 4G coverage. Of the 28 cities, EE were clear winners across 19, tied with Vodafone on 4 and once with O2.
Wins by Network Across 28 Built Up Areas
Filtering download speeds by network, allows us to understand how developed the big four are across different locations across the UK.
EE is clearly leading the way when it comes to the fastest 4G speeds. As the first network to launch 4G within the UK, their period of exclusivity throughout 2013 gave EE a head start. 3 on the other hand were last to market their 4G proposition, it's no surprise their coverage is for now a little off the mark.
Though the EE network delivers the fastest overall speed and the fastest average speed, coverage in Birkenhead was the slowest recorded 4G speed by any network. Even within the same network, we're seeing great variability in 4G speeds across different parts of the country. The huge differences in EE speeds may be attributed to the rollout of EE Extra, second generation 4G coverage which allow double-speed connections for those willing to pay a premium.
4G speed-seekers in Brighton & Hove have greater flexibility when it comes to choosing a mobile data plan; the only built-up-area to rank in the top 3 for download speeds across all four networks. With such a strong mobile internet, you could sign up to the slowest 4G provider in Brighton & Hove and still have a faster connection than anyone connected in West Yorkshire and five other built up areas.
Want to learn more about 4G? Check out our Ultimate Guide
We found a low positive correlation relationship where cities with more time on LTE, had faster average 4G speeds.
Both speed and coverage are important for an optimal 4G browsing experience; one is no good without the other. Liverpool is one of the best cities in the UK for 4G, with EE offering the best balance of fast internet (21.34 Mbps) and an uptime of 67%
One of the worst 4G experiences is within South Hampshire on 3, reporting coverage below 20% and a speed of 5.53mbps; almost 4 times slower than Liverpool.